The most shocking thing about shock-rocker Marilyn Manson’s latest Twin Cities area concert Friday night might have simply been the location: Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake. Forget the old “lock up your daughters” adage. The more applicable warning in this case was, “lock up your grandmas.”
Once the kind of performer you expected to sacrifice a chicken on stage, Manson is no spring chicken anymore. Akin to Alice Cooper appearing on “The Muppets” circa 1978, the 46-year-old goth-metal king’s booking at a casino underscored how uncontroversial his undead aesthetic has become in the 25 years since his debut album. However, as unlikely a choice as the venue may have seemed, it wasn’t a sign that Manson’s career is dead.
Friday’s 2,100 seats swiftly sold out, and the reviews for his latest album, “The Pale Emperor,” are some of the most favorable of his 25-year career. Friday’s 90-minute set showed why.
The concert was relatively light on stagy gimmicks and showy antics. You know, a butcher-knife-adorned microphone here and an upside-down crucifix there was about it. But the performance did prove as heavy musically as the Mystic buffet gravy bin.
The thundering show opener “Deep Six” was felt deep in fans’ rib cages, and that was just the first of several songs off the new record that breathed new energy into the Manson mold.
“Killing Strangers” a few songs later offered a slower-stewing but more intense sound and an impressive, Bowie-esque howling and prancing from the stage. The especially freaky new “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” coolly chugged along almost like a metallic Velvet Underground riff.
Manson strategically dropped in his older standards here and there, starting with “Disposable Teens” and “mOBSCENE” near the beginning and ending with “The Beautiful People” and “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” before the one-song encore “Coma White.” During “Dope Show” mid-concert, he donned a glitzy, poofy Liberace-like jacket suitable for the casino setting. I don’t know if ol’ Wladziu would’ve liked the white dead fox hide adorning the coat, though.
If raising ire from PETA is the most controversial thing Manson can pull on tour these days, then maybe he should just give up that part of his shtick. He tried to stir things up with his banter between songs — almost every song, in fact, tirelessly — but it mostly sounded like inane jibber jabber. Things like “My dad taught me how to kill someone when I was 7,” “Don’t do drugs, because they’re mine,” blah blah.
The music really did the talking Friday. With heyday guitarist Twiggy Ramirez in tow, the Manson band crunched and roared flawlessly, really sounding as strong as ever. Its old, twisted cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” sounded a bit crusty compared to the monstrous new version of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”
At least the M&M man still has some good tricks up his sleeves music-wise. Maybe he can pick up some magicians’ tricks on the casino circuit now to spice things up even more.